Film Review: MARY MAGDALENE (UK/USA/Australia 2018) **

Mary Magdalene Poster
Trailer

The story of Mary Magdalene.

Director:

Garth Davis

Comes Easter usually come a slew of Christianity films.  MARY MAGDALENE is one of them that does not have the Christian faith directly as a theme.  Mary Magdalene is one of the women who encountered Jesus of Nazareth in the Bible.

Besides being set in Biblical times and a film that has Jesus as a subject, there are other reasons that might attract moviegoers to MARY MAGDALENE.  The film features two stars Rooney Mara and Joachim Phoenix who normally play shit disturbers – Mara in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and Phoenix in INHERENT VICE and YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, now playing a super good Mary and the Son of God, Jesus.

Though Mary is believed by may to be a reformed prostitute, no such mention of this fact is evident i any part of the film.  When the film begins, Mary is seen delivering a bay saving the mothers life before being offered as a bride to a man she does not love.  She declines to continue the typical mother and wife role set in her village of those times.  Mary and  her village are under the rule of King Herod, which the audience is informed is a puppet ruler of the Roans who has beheaded John the Baptist for preaching the Kingdom of God.  The Mary Magdalene character is present in the  4 Gospels of the new Testament that account for the life of Jesus on Earth.  The life of Jesus is in the background in the film with Mary as the protagonist.

The film’s setting is Galilee.   The cinematography is impressive and most of the scenes are spectacular to look at – with the lake in the background (according to the press notes) or sea (according to the Bible).  

MARY MAGDALENE fails for a number of reasons for two main reason – the miscasting and the fact that thesis one boring film.   Whenever Mara appears, despite her angelic face, one can always recall her bad ass roles.  The same can be said for Phoenix only worse.  It is totally laughable when Phoenix as Jesus starts preaching doing good deeds.  Director Davis also sues the film to promote the feminine cause – the role of women in society.  The film drags on with event after event that does not really connect the audience with the narrative.  No one really cares if Mary fall in love or marries her soul mate either.

The film has an eclectic cast that includes Tahar Rah as Judas Iscariot, Tcheky Karyi as Elisha and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples (I did not know Peter was black and that Judas was Arab).  One can understand current films striving to be politically correct to further the causes of feminism and racism.

For MARY MAGDALENE – see it for what it is worth, which is not much.  Better to spend your money on Easter eggs!

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5360996/videoplayer/vi3892165913?ref_=tt_ov_vi

Film Review: LION (Australia 2016)

lion_movie_posterLION (Australia 2016) **
Directed by Garth Davis

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Dev Patel

Review by Gilbert Seah

When a feel-good story as in LION is made into a film, filmmakers often still feel the need to add on additional sweetness. PLAY IT LIKE BECKAM, BILLY ELLIOT and the more recent QUEEN OF KATWE are examples of films that fall into this trap.

Audiences do not seem to mind as observed in the box-office success of the first two aforementioned films though QUEEN OF KATWE bombed. Critics, however are never impressed with sugar-coated feel-good films. Unfortunately, LIONS falls into this category. Director Davis is still not ashamed to show a tear or two dripping from the face of the main protagonist, Saroo (Dev Patel), not once but twice.
Dev Patel (THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE), Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman star in the true story of Saroo Brierley, who was adopted by an Australian couple after being separated from his family in India at the age of five, and then located his original home using Google Earth 25 years later.

The film begins with overhead shot of Tasmania, Australia before settling, oddly in India. Here, the audience sees precocious five-year-old Saroo Khan (Sunny Pawar) in a very poor family. Over-eager to help his older brother Guddu with any odd job that will provide their family with much-needed money, Saroo follows Guddu everywhere he goes. One night the two boys are separated on a train platform in their native Madhya Pradesh, and Saroo winds up nearly a thousand miles away in Calcutta where he is fortunately taken in by a government orphanage. When an Australian couple (Kidman and David Wenham) adopts him, he is taken to live with them in Hobart, Tasmania. It’s not until Saroo leaves that island as a young Australian man (Dev Patel) that he begins to wonder what became of his first home and the family he so adored. Saroo falls into romaine with an Australian (Rooney Mara) in an awkward romance. It does not take a genius to figure out that Saroo will eventually be united with his mother in India through the help with Google earth.

Adapting Brierley’s own book, A Long Way Home, screenwriter Luke Davies and first-time director Garth Davis infuse the story with just too much heartbreak. Nothing is gained or learnt from this predictable true tale made worse with its tear jerking at every possibility. This is an example of the worst of a based on a true story, tear at your heart-strings film.

The reason the film is called LION is revealed at the very end of the film. Not that it matters any. The film LION arrives with much less than a roar.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ns9XjWKws&t=7s

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